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Long, Thomas G. 1946-

Long, Thomas G. 1946-

PERSONAL:

Born October 12, 1946. Education: Erskine College, B.A., 1968; Erskine Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1971; Princeton Theological Seminary, Ph.D., 1980.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Emory University, Candler School of Theology, 500 S. Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, GA, 30322. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Educator, minister, writer, and editor. Emory University, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA, Bandy professor of preaching; ordained Presbyterian minister. Also was professor of preaching and worship at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.

WRITINGS:

Shepherds and Bathrobes: Sermons for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany (Sundays in Ordinary Time): Cycle B Gospel Texts, CSS Publishing (Lima, OH), 1987.

The Senses of Preaching, John Knox Press (Atlanta, GA), 1988.

(Editor, with Neely Dixon McCarter) Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, Fortress Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1989.

The Witness of Preaching, Westminster J. Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1989, 2nd revised edition, 2005.

Preaching in and out of Season, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1990.

(Editor, with Gail R. O'Day) Listening to the Word: Studies in Honor of Fred B. Craddock, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 1993.

(Editor, with Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.) A Chorus of Witnesses: Model Sermons for Today's Preacher, W.B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1994.

Whispering the Lyrics: Sermons for Lent and Easter: Cycle A: Gospel Texts, CSS Publishing (Lima, OH), 1995.

(Editor, with Edward Farley) Preaching as a Theological Task: World, Gospel, Scripture: In Honor of David Buttrick, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1996.

Something Is about to Happen: Sermons for Advent and Christmas, CSS Publishing (Lima, OH), 1996.

Hebrews, John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1997.

Matthew, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1997.

Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship, Alban Institute (Bethesda, MD), 2002.

Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

(Editor, with Leonora Tubbs Tisdale) Teaching Preaching as a Christian Practice: A New Approach to Homiletical Pedagogy, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Thomas G. Long is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a seminary professor whose research interests are homiletical theory and biblical preaching, as well as the theology and practice of Christian funerals. He is the editor, with Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., of A Chorus of Witnesses: Model Sermons for Today's Preacher. Published in 1994, the book is a collection of sermons that, according to Christianity Today contributor Wayne Brouwer, "exemplify high homiletic art." Brouwer also wrote in the same review: "Here is a collection of sermons so delightful, so engrossing, so beautifully crafted, so moving that it begs to be savored in thoughtful bits and consumed in craving gulps."

The thirty-six sermons in the collection are separated into four categories: those that "make artful uses of their sources," "pursue classic aims," "exhibit particular homiletic forms and dynamics," and a final section on sermons for special occasions. All but one of the sermons are by twentieth-century preachers who come from various denominations, from Lutheran and Catholic to Methodists and Anglican Christians. "Accordingly, the sermons vary in lots of ways, including in their theological and hermeneutical commitments and in their attachments to texts," the editors write in the book's introduction. "But each offers features of particular interest to preachers, aspiring preachers, and general Christian readers." The editors go on to point out an important aspect about "reading sermons," noting: "Of course, a written sermon is not a preached sermon. Reading a sermon is an importantly different experience from hearing one, and both differ from actually seeing a preacher aim and fire. So, understandably, some written sermons do not do their authors full justice."

The author examines the letters to the Hebrews in his book, appropriately titled Hebrews. Pointing out that the letters are a sermon to an early Christian congregation, the author focuses on this Biblical text as it pertains to use by preachers, focusing on Hebrews addressing a congregation under extreme stresses. In particular, the author explores how Hebrews addresses issues of weariness that can be resolved by declaring faith in Jesus. "Among the books of the New Testament, the epistle to the Hebrews stands out as both strange and fascinating, "the author writes in the book's introduction. "Unique in style and content, as a piece of literature it is simply unlike any of the other epistles. Though some of its phrases are among the best-known and most often quoted passages in the New Testament, many contemporary Christians are largely unacquainted with the book as a whole, finding themselves lost in its serpentine passageways and elaborate theological arguments."

Hebrews was praised by several reviewers. Noting that the "densely woven argument [in the Biblical Hebrews] is complex and sustained," Frances Taylor Gench went on to write in her review in Interpretation that "Long proves to be an exceptionally able guide for this study." Daniel J. Harrington wrote in America that in his analysis of Hebrews the author "illustrates how Scripture can be a actualized today."

Long's next book, Matthew, examines this New Testament Gospel. The book begins with a brief introduction followed by sixteen chapters exploring various aspects of the Gospel, from the story of the two men possessed by demons to various parables and the stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "A prominent strength of this commentary lies in its vivid language and striking turns of phrase," wrote Dorothy Jean Weaver in Interpretation.

Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship was called an "astute and clearly written book" by Presbyterian Record contributor Peter Bush. The author focuses on nine characteristics that congregations can strive for in the fostering of worship in their parishioners. He discusses various aspects of worship such as its mystery and mission. He also discusses music within a ministry of worship with a definite emphasis on what the author sees as more traditional Christian music.

In his 2004 book Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, the author writes about how people who are neither preachers nor theologians can talk about their Christian faith with ordinary language when they are not in church. He emphasizes that people do not have to have all the answers to talk about their faith and points out that the practice of worship provides a solid background and the courage for discussions of Christianity. The author examines the way that language shapes the experience, practice, and communal life of Christians and uses biblical sources and contemporary stories and anecdotes to demystify the narrow understanding of Christian testimony. Long explores how Christianity is more than mere doctrines and ideas but, rather, is a way of living in the world everyday.

"Long writes as well as he preaches, and in the same manner," wrote Michael Lindvall in the Christian Century. "Affirmations and assertions are always fol- lowed by apt illustrations drawn from literature and experience." Gench noted in Interpretations: "This book is a treasure, filled with thought-provoking insight and masterful illustration. It belongs in every church library, and will compel you to find people with whom to discuss it."

The author's 1989 book The Witness of Preaching, was published in a revised second edition in 2005. The revised edition also discusses how to use PowerPoint and video clips while preaching, as well as references to more up-to-date works. A contributor to Interpretation noted that the author continues to emphasize "bearing witness to the gospel" as the basis of good preaching. Writing in the preface to the second edition, the author notes: "In the more than a decade and a half since the first edition of Witness appeared, many fresh issues and voices have quite naturally entered the homiletical arena. The second edition is an attempt to catch up with the field, to address some of the new forces and factors, to reflect the current state of homiletical conversation, and to introduce not only the best methods for preaching but also the sort of theological thinking needed to do good preaching."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Long, Thomas G., Hebrews, John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1997.

Long, Thomas G., The Witness of Preaching, 2nd revised edition, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 2005.

Long, Thomas G., and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., editors, A Chorus of Witnesses: Model Sermons for Today's Preacher, W.B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1994.

PERIODICALS

America, March 7, 1998, Daniel J. Harrington, review of Hebrews, p. 26.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, July, 1998, James H. Swetnam, review of Hebrews, p. 576.

Christian Century, March 8, 2005, Michael Lindvall, review of Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, p. 43.

Christianity Today, March 6, 1995, Wayne Brouwer, review of A Chorus of Witnesses, p. 39.

Interpretation, July, 1991, Perry H. Biddle, Jr., review of Preaching in and out of Season, p. 303; July, 1998, Frances Taylor Gench, review of Hebrews, p. 301; October, 1998, Dorothy Jean Weaver, review of Matthew, p. 434; April, 2005, Frances Taylor Gench, review of Testimony, p. 221; July, 2006, review of The Witness of Preaching, p. 368.

Presbyterian Record, September, 2002, Peter Bush, review of Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship, p. 45.

Theology Today, July, 1990, Ronald J. Allen, review of The Witness of Preaching, p. 225; July, 1994, Joseph R. Jeter, Jr., review of Listening to the Word: Studies in Honor of Fred B. Craddock, p. 326; January, 1997, review of Whispering the Lyrics: Sermons for Lent and Easter: Cycle A: Gospel Texts, p. 573; January, 1998, review of Hebrews, p. 576; January, 1998, review of Preaching as a Theological Task: World, Gospel, Scripture: In Honor of David Buttrick, p. 572; April, 2006, Patrick Henry, review of Testimony, p. 103.

ONLINE

Day1,http://www.day1.net/ (May 19, 2008), brief profile of author.

Emory University Candler School of Theology Web site,http://candler.emory.edu/ (May 19, 2008), faculty profile of author.

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